Zero Runner: Benefits for Competitive Runners

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runnersWhen it comes to running, most athletes have their own ideas about how to get the most out of every training mile. Well, we’ve got one too: try running without impact.

You can do this with the new no-impact Zero Runner from Octane. Available at your nearest HealthStyles location, the Zero Runner is a unique running machine that can help runners meet and exceed their fitness goals by allowing them to increase their training volume, monitor their stride consistency, and engage in active warm ups and recovery.

Find out for yourself just how beneficial the Zero Runner can be for your training regimen by visiting one of your local HealthStyles Exercise Equipment stores and going for a run on the Zero Runner.

Increase Training Volume

If you want to seriously improve your running performance over the long term, exactly how much and how often should you run? According to the 2013 National Runner Survey distributed by Running USA, the average competitive runner runs 35.5 miles a week. But is that enough?

Frankly, there is no hard and fast answer to this question. However, most experts would agree that running more is the surest way to improve as a runner. After all, practice makes perfect. Research, too, suggests, this is the case. For example, Dr. Jason Karp, in his study of male and female qualifiers for the US Olympic Team Trials marathons, found a strong correlation between training volume and performance.

However, one of the problems inherent in running more to improve performance is that, at some point, running more will lead to a breaking point. After that point, more running can cause pain, discomfort, and even injury.

Enter the Zero Runner, the first no-impact running machine ever. With the Zero Runner, you can increase your weekly running frequency and daily running duration without increasing the risk of injury. That’s because the Zero Runner’s innovative hip and knee joints allow you to run with your natural form while the independent pedals eliminate the impact of your feet hitting the ground. No impact means no pain and discomfort on your joints, and that means you can improve your running performance by running farther and more often.

Monitor Stride Consistency

As with all Octane exercise machines, the Zero Runner can wirelessly connect to your iPad through Octane’s SmartLink app (see this blog post for more). With this app, athletes can choose training programs specific to their fitness goals, track their workouts and progress, and even work with a virtual trainer.

Octane Zero Runner Stride PhasesAnother feature available with this app, and with the Zero Runner, that is sure to get serious runners excited is the ability to monitor your running form. As it stands, most running technology can only track things like steps, distance, and calories burned. Although this information is certainly helpful, it only scratches the surface when it comes to evaluating your running performance.

The Zero Runner’s innovative design allows you to track your gait while you run. Monitor your stride length and height for consistency throughout your workout. Don’t let you running form slip or get lazy towards the end of your run! Get more out of every mile by tracking the health of your gait and ensure that you’re performing just as strong at mile 10 as you did at mile 1.

Active Warm Up & Recovery

Everyone knows how important it is to warm up before working out, both to minimize the risk of injury and to improve performance. However, simply stretching out on the ground won’t cut it. Most experts recommend athletes engage in “active” warm-ups, which increase your heart rate, open up your joints, and actively stretch your muscles.

Similarly, conventional wisdom increasingly favors “active recovery” during the cool-down phase after you’ve completed a hard competition or workout, as well as in the days following. One study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that active recovery immediately after the event encourages recovery and reduces muscle lactate levels faster than complete rest.

The Zero Runner from Octane is a great tool to help you undertake both active warm ups and active recovery. After some initial stretching, hop on the Zero Runner and swing your legs back and forth through the full range of motion to more fully open up your hips and joints. Continue by moving through to a more casual jog in order to get your heart rate up and more actively stretch out. Follow the same procedure immediately after a hard workout in order to ease your body through the transition from high intensity to rest. For those serious athletes who struggle to take any days off, the Zero Runner is the ideal machine to use, as you can keep working out without threatening injury from over extension.

21st Century Running Machines: No Pain, All Gain

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Despite running being among the simplest and most straightforward of exercises, stress and discomfort sustained while running are unfortunately common. While there are no precise statistics, it’s estimated that every year more than half of all runners injure themselves to the point where they decide that they must stop running. For some, a few days of rest is all that is needed. But for others, their injuries force them to hang up their running shoes for good.

Running is a fantastic exercise, but why do so many runners hurt themselves when running? Numerous theories abound, from running too vigorously during training sessions to the type of shoes runners wear. Despite differences among runners, there is one aspect of running that all share: the impact of foot hitting pavement. This impact is responsible for the majority of ankle, knee, and hip injuries, and it’s this problem that a whole new category of running machines aim to eliminate. Even for uninjured runners, removing the impact confers significant benefits by allowing for longer training sessions and active warmup and recovery. Forget running in the pool, here’s one example of a 21st Century Running Machine that seeks to remove impact so you can enjoy your running once again:

Less Impact, More Performance

Octane Fitness ZR7 Zero RunnerDo you wonder what it would feel like to run on air? The motorless and trackless Zero Runner from Octane Fitness allows you to do just that. This 21st Century Running Machine has two independent footpads with innovative hip and knee joints that replicate a genuine running motion with absolutely zero impact. Providing a more natural running stride than an elliptical and without the noise and impact of a treadmill, the Zero Runner combines the best of both worlds to give you a powerful workout without the strain and stress that normally accompanies running.

Other companies have taken different approaches to removing the impact on joints. The Sproing Trainer from Sproing Fitness, for example, does away with the moving track like the Zero Runner. In its place, the Sproing Trainer features a 6-inch adjustable cushion of high-density foam and air which, when paired with a solid rear post that holds your waist in place with a high-anchored harness, lessens the impact on your joints as you lean forward and run in place. The resulting exercise doesn’t feel quite as natural as the Zero Runner, but the Sproing Trainer helps improve form by compelling you to land on the balls of your feet, as opposed to the typical bad form of heels-first.

Woodway’s EcoMill, on the other hand, keeps the traditional treadmill track, albeit with significant differences. The EcoMill’s innovative rubber-coated aluminum slats transmit much less shock and strain to your joints than normal running outside or on a treadmill. With no motor, speed is determined by where you run on the EcoMill’s sloped track: higher up to run faster, in the middle to run slower. The EcoMill’s uniquely sloped track definitely sets it apart from other running machines.

EcoMillSproing

The Zero Runner’s out-of-the-box design is not only ideal for competitive runners who struggle to take days off, but also for those runners who have had to cut back their running due to major or minor injury. With a greater stride length and range of motion than what is normally available with ellipticals, the Zero Runner’s innovative design mimics natural leg movement and allows you to create a customized running stride that suits your body. In fact, the Zero Runner provides constant feedback about your running form, informing you about your stride so that you can maintain consistency over the course of your run and maximize productivity. And with attachments for Octane’s CROSS CiRCUIT program built-in to the machine, you can maximize your workout by adding cross training to your cardio. Use the Zero Runner to supplement your normal running routine and save on the normal wear and tear while still maintaining a solid workout.

Plus, as with all of Octane’s products, the Zero Runner wirelessly connects to your iPad and transmits data to the SmartLink app (available on the App Store) so you can monitor your progress as you complete one of the dozens of customizable programs. This is definitely a machine made for 21st Century gadget-savvy athletes!

Try the Zero Runner for yourself when you visit your nearest HealthStyles Exercise Equipment location.

Improve Your Running Form with Zero Runner

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Do you know how to run properly?

Most people would find this question strange, since popular opinion is that runners naturally find their best form and stride on their own, and once found it shouldn’t be changed. Indeed, even people who find themselves in some pain and discomfort after running find it hard to believe that their running form could possibly be the culprit.

Nevertheless, the benefits of running with proper form consistently throughout your run are enormous:  running correctly can reduce the risk of injury, increase basic speed, and improve endurance.

So how can you learn to improve your form and increase the productivity of your workout?

Try the Zero Runner from Octane.

It’s not only a fantastic running machine, but it can also help you improve your running form so that you get more miles out of your run. Its innovative no-impact design guides your movement yet contains no moving belt or fixed track. The Zero Runner also features technology that displays your gait so you can monitor your stride length and height for consistency throughout your run.

Octane Zero Runner Runners Gait

As the diagram demonstrates, there are 4 basic steps in the running cycle: Initiate, Pull Through, Lift, and Extension.

  1. Initiate: As you begin the running stride, you must first transfer weight to the lead foot
  2. Pull Through: Start accelerating into your stride with a strong hamstring contraction
  3. Lift: Flex your knee while curling your hamstring, bringing the heel of your foot to your glute
  4. Extension: Flex the hips, then extend the knee forward as you transfer weight to your other foot to begin the next stride

Octane Zero Runner Stride PhasesAlthough focusing on each of these four steps as you run could become tiresome, the Zero Runner’s unique design compels you to concentrate on your running form, at least for the first few strides. With the Zero Runner you can start your workout and find a comfortable pace and stride. The machine will continuously provide exact feedback on how consistently you can maintain that stride over the course of your run.

Once you are comfortable maintaining a uniform stride, you can focus on holding your form for longer durations to gradually build up endurance. Or you can use this as a guide to know when you have met your limit for hard interval or tempo workouts. Once your body becomes accustomed to the movement, you’ll find that maintaining the proper running form soon becomes second nature, and the benefits of doing so quickly materialize.

Still not convinced? Stop by your nearest HealthStyles Exercise Equipment location and try the Zero Runner out for yourself. We guarantee it’s unlike any running machine you’ve ever tried.

Master your running form and reap the benefits of zero impact running with the Zero Runner from Octane.

ElliptiGO Elliptical Bike for Fitness Enthusiasts

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Burn more calories and have fun exercising outdoors on the ElliptiGO outdoor elliptical bicycle – the world’s first elliptical bike. This video explains why fitness enthusiasts love the ElliptiGO for a comfortable, fun and efficient workout. The ElliptiGO combines the elliptical trainer motion with a bicycle and has become one of the preferred cardio training tools for dozens of professional athletes and thousands of fitness enthusiasts. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to get out of the gym for their workouts.

Click here to view the ElliptiGO models online. Or visit a HealthStyles store location to test drive an ElliptiGO today!

Dad Labs ElliptiGO Review

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Daddy Clay lucked out and won an ElliptiGO trainer via Facebook. As a runner who has suffered a few injuries, the odd looks from other pedestrians and cyclist while riding this ‘running bike’ is a small price to pay for the benefits. The low impact workout and reasonable pace of the ElliptiGO makes it the perfect piece of rehab equipment. One unexpected benefit is that the ElliptiGO has smaller wheels than a traditional “adult” bicycle, so the pace is slower. A pace that is perfect for an outing with the kids on their bicycles. You can move along comfortably at their speed, without feeling that you’re holding yourself back. That is, of course, if they’ll be seen with you on the very odd looking machine. Yes, it’s an weird ride, but it is fun, and great for runners training or rehabbing an injury.

Click here to view the ElliptiGO models online. Or visit a HealthStyles store location to test drive an ElliptiGO today!

ElliptiGO for Athletes

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An interview and ElliptiGO elliptical bike ride with elite runners Adam Goucher, Jorge Torres, and Lauren Fleshman during the 2012 Footlocker National Championships. The ElliptiGO is the the world’s first outdoor elliptical bicycle – designed to emulate the experience of running while eliminating the impact. By improving the elliptical trainer motion to better replicate running and then putting it on the road, the ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle has become one of the cross-training tools of choice for dozens of professional athletes. It’s perfect for healthy runners who want to increase mileage through cross-training, injured runners who are looking to experience running again, and fitness enthusiasts who want to get out of the gym.

Click here to view the ElliptiGO models online. Or visit a HealthStyles store location to test drive an ElliptiGO today!

ElliptiGO – the Perfect Crosstrainer for Runners

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The ElliptiGO 8C

Until two years ago I was not a person to talk to about cross-training. I’m a runner, and runners run. Period. But that’s not exactly true if you want to prolong your running career and maintain a well-rounded fitness program. Still, my conversion to cross-training believer didn’t come easily.

As a high school student I was a gymnast. Not satisfied specializing on one or two events, I competed in all of them. I loved gymnastics and believe it’s one of the best sports for developing overall fitness. Sadly, there’s only so much a middle aged body can take when it comes to gymnastics, and I’ve had some pretty serious injuries related to that sport so it’s not in my best interest to pursue it any further.

Over twenty years ago I had surgery on my neck to fuse discs damaged in a fall from the horizontal bar, and had to stop running for a year. During that time I tried swimming, another sport that can develop an overall strong, fit body if you can endure the monotony of swimming back and forth, over and over again, to get the workout that you need. I swam a lot of miles while waiting for the doctors okay to resume my running program. I also logged a lot of miles on my bicycle. I enjoyed that, but to elevate my heart rate to the level I was used to from running, I had to go really far, really fast. It was fun, but it never felt the same as running and I never felt like I was working as hard or efficiently as I wanted. Once I completed my year of healing from spinal fusion, I hit the roads hard.

Two years ago I had to have surgery on both of my feet. Not because of running too much, but because I have some bones in my feet that are too short and caused too much stress in all the wrong places. I now have five pieces of titanium in both feet. My feet work properly now but I still get sore if I overdo the running. One year ago I had to have my lower spine fused. Again, not because of too much running, but because I have degenerative disc disease. Not really a disease, this is something that’s very common and affects different people in different ways and most of us will feel its effects in one way or another as we age. I now have six pieces of titanium in my back. All of this brings me back to the original point: I need to cross-train if I want to continue running.

An article toward the back of Runner’s World magazine last year led me to a contraption called “ElliptiGO”. Picture an elliptical trainer on wheels and you’re on the right track. Described as an elliptical bicycle, the ElliptiGO has two wheels and handle bars with hand brakes like a bike, but no seat. Your feet sit in trays and your legs move in an elliptical motion while you stand upright. This upright position produces more wind resistance than a bike and provides an excellent workout! The motion is as close to running as you can get without actually running, and the pounding on the body is nonexistent. If you can’t handle stares from curious onlookers, the ElliptiGO isn’t for you. But if you want a great workout very similar to running without the pounding, give one a try. Check out www.elliptigo.com or stop in at a HealthStyles Exercise Equipment near you for more information. I promise it’ll put a smile on your face and some sweat on your brow.

Tom Riggs
Fort Collins Coloroadoan

HealthStyles Exercise Equipment carries the full selection of ElliptiGO bikes. Complete specifications and additional videos, images, and reviews are online here:

ElliptiGO 11R Outdoor Elliptical Bike

ElliptiGO 8C Outdoor Elliptical Bike

ElliptiGO 3C Outdoor Elliptical Bike

Shoo Away Shin Splints

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Shin splints cause a radiating pain in the front lower leg and often make an appearance among new walkers and runners who exercise on hard surfaces that offer no shock absorption. The underlying cause of shin splints is weakness in the lower leg muscle, an area known as the tibialis anterior. Follow these tips from Life Fitness to avoid a constant battle with shin splints and learn ways to cope with them appropriately.

Short-Term Solutions

  • Take your walking / running routine to a softer surface, which will reduce the shock that travels through the legs. Try exercising on a treadmill, grass or sand.
  • Consider purchasing orthotic shoe inserts at a local drugstore. If your shin splits are extreme, it may be helpful to visit a podiatrist for prescribed custom inserts.
  • Pace yourself! Increase your mileage gradually. Walking or sprinting an instant 5k after a winter-long hibernation will leave your muscles overworked.
  • Alternate your exercise regimen by cross-training, which offers variety and can help relieve overall muscle stress.
  • Don’t forget that stretching is one of the most underrated forms of therapy and relief. Make it part of your daily routine, and your shins will thank you.

Long-Term Solutions

  • Try walking on your heels. Walk across the room two or three times at first and slowly build up to repetitions.
  • While standing or sitting, lift your foot slightly off of the ground and draw the alphabet with your toes. Repeat on the other side.
  • Flex and point the toes any time you’re sitting. Try making this a daily routine.
  • It’s great to be enthusiastic about starting an intense fitness routine, but respecting your muscles will allow you to suffer less shin splints and meet your goals faster.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit www.lifefitness.com or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lifefitness or join our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/lifefitness.

Run Yourself into Shape This Summer!

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If you are struggling with trying to get into a regular workout routine, one of the key factors in staring a program and continuing, can be to have a goal to work toward. Research shows that specific and measurable goals are the most motivating. Finding a goal that will be motivating to you personally is the key. For many individuals, choosing an event to participate in can provide that motivation that they are looking for.

Running is a versatile activity that is has many health benefits. It’s one of the top activities for burning fat, helps prevent muscle and bone loss, reduces the risk of stroke and breast cancer, and has many other specific physical benefits. In addition it boosts confidence and self esteem, reduces stress and has been proven to improve attitude and reduce depression. If you have not tried running as a regular activity in the past, or if you used to run regularly but stopped for some reason, this might be just the season for you to get back into a regular running routine.

Choosing a local event to compete in may be just the thing to get you motivated. With summer fast approaching, the upcoming weekends are full of running events in small towns and large cities throughout Colorado and beyond. A 5K (or 3.1) mile road or off road running event is a short enough event to train for in a relatively short period of time.

If you have never participated in a running event before, your goal may to “compete to complete”, whereas if you have done previous races, your goal might be to improve over your previous best 5K time. No matter what, the goal you set should be related to your personal ability and fitness level, and training for a specific event will help get you on a treadmill, or out on the road, on a regular training schedule.

The article below outlines a 6 week training schedule for recreational runners, written by Rick Morris from runningplanet.com and author of Treadmill Training for Runners. In it he outlines a 6 week training program designed to get you ready for a 5k event. My caution would be if you are have not been running on a regular basis, start slowly and work your way up! If you start out trying to do too much, you may feel overwhelmed, become discouraged, and give up. That’s what training is all about! When you work your way up gradually, you improve gradually over the course of your training, and are therefore able to increase your distance in a way that does not push you beyond what you are capable of at any given time.

I would also encourage you to sign up with a friend so that you can train together and compare notes on your progress. And when the day of your event arrives, make sure to have fun and reward yourself for your accomplishment!

5K Training Program for Recreational Runners

5K Training Program

This is a 6-week 5K training program that is designed to prepare a recreational runner for a local 5K race. Recreational runners usually do not follow a year round training program and may run only on weekends.

Before beginning this program, you should be able to run at least 2 miles without stopping. If you are not currently up to that level, slowly build up to running two miles without stopping before you start this program.

This 5K training program is general in nature. Feel free to make adjustments in order to accommodate scheduling conflicts and individual goals and rate of improvement.

The Workouts

This 5K training program contains easy runs, some hill workouts, some beginning speed workouts and rest days. It is designed to allow a recreational runner to compete in and comfortably finish a 5K race. The beginning speed workouts are an introduction to more intense training and will moderately improve your performance, speed and speed endurance.

Easy Runs

Easy runs should be run at a pace that feels fairly comfortable. You should be breathing hard, but should be able to carry on a conversation. If you are breathing so hard that you cannot talk, you are running too hard. If you can sing, you are running too easily.

Speed Workouts

The speed workouts in this program consist of short intervals that are performed at faster than your normal training speed. These are introductory level speed workouts and are designed to moderately improve your speed and performance in the 5K race. These workouts are based on your current 5K race time. If you have not completed a race or do not know your current 5K race time you have a couple of options. You can simply make your best guess on how fast you can run a 5K or you can perform a time trial. To do the time trial, go to a 400 meter track (most high school tracks are 400 meters) and run three 1600 meter repeats with one minute of rest between the three repeats. Run the repeats at a pace that you can maintain for the entire workout. You should run hard, but not so hard that you cannot complete the three workouts. Calculate your average pace per mile for the three repeats. Multiply this pace by 3.125. That will give you a fairly accurate estimate of your 5K race finishing time.

Hill Workouts

Hill workouts will help build strength and speed. These workouts are short, repeated runs up a hill of moderate grade.

Rest

Rest is a very important part of any training program. Without proper rest, your muscles and connective tissues will not have an opportunity to recover and strengthen properly. On the days calling for complete rest, do no strenuous activity. On the days calling for rest or cross training, you can rest totally or do some cross training. Cross training can be any activity other than running. You could go for a walk, swim, bicycle or do nothing. It is up to you.

Week 1

  • Monday – Rest. Rest is an important part of any training program.
  • Tuesday – Run 2 miles easy. Run at an easy “conversational” pace.
  • Wednesday – Warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging. Run 4 x Hill repeats. Run up a hill of moderate grade. Run at a pace that feels like 5K pace. Your pace will be slower, but will feel 5K pace because of the added difficulty of the hill. Run up the hill for about 100 meters. Jog down the hill and repeat.
  • Thursday – Rest or cross train. Rest or engage in a non-running activity.
  • Friday – Run 2 miles easy.
  • Saturday – Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday – Run 2 miles easy.

Week 2

  • Monday – Rest. This program uses Monday as a rest day, because Sunday is your longest run of the week. You can adjust this to meet your needs, but take off the day after your longest weekly run.
  • Tuesday – Run 2.25 miles easy. You add a quarter mile to your previous longest run. You will make some additional increases later in the program.
  • Wednesday – Warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging. Run 4 x 800 meter repeats at around your goal 5K pace. Jog easily for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging. You can do this workout on a track, on a trail or on a treadmill. You will have a more accurate measure of distance on the track or treadmill.
  • Thursday – Rest or cross train.
  • Friday – Run 2.25 miles easy.
  • Saturday – Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday – Run 2.5 miles easy. You move up to 2.5 miles here. Try to keep your pace easy, but consistent.

Week 3

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – Run 2.5 miles easy.
  • Wednesday – Warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging. Run 6 x 400 meter repeats at 10 seconds per mile faster than your goal or current 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.
  • Thursday – Rest or cross train.
  • Friday – Run 2.5 miles easy.
  • Saturday – Run 2.5 miles easy.
  • Sunday – Run 3 miles easy. You make another increase in mileage here. You are running almost a full 5K distance here. A 5K is 3.1 miles.

Week 4

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – Run 3 miles easy.
  • Wednesday – Warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging. Run 5 x 800 meter repeats at around your goal 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.
  • Thursday – Rest or cross train.
  • Friday – Run 3 miles easy.
  • Saturday – Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday – Run 3 miles easy.

Week 5

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – Run 3 miles easy.
  • Wednesday – Warm up and run 8 X 400 meter repeats at 10 seconds per mile faster than your goal 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.
  • Thursday – Rest or cross train.
  • Friday – Run 3 miles easy.
  • Saturday – Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday – Run 3.5 miles easy. This is the final mileage increase in this program. You are now running .4 mile farther than the 5K distance. This will give you the endurance to easily complete the 5K race and will increase your confidence.

Week 6

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – Run 3 miles easy.
  • Wednesday – Warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging. Run 3 x 1600 meter repeats at 10 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace. Cool down with 800 meters of easy jogging.
  • Thursday – Rest or cross train.
  • Friday – Run 2 miles easy.
  • Saturday – Run 1 mile easy.
  • Sunday – Race Day. Have Fun!!

If you completed the workouts in this program, you will be able to easily finish your 5K. You can repeat this program for other races, as long as you maintain the ability to run 2 miles non-stop. If you wish to improve your speed and performance, you should start following a specific year round training program. The beginning competitors program is the first step into a competitive year round program.

By Rick Morris – Running Coach, Author of Treadmill Training for Runners and editor of runningplanet.com.